Tuesday, 30 June 2015


Heard on a Radio interview.

Interviewer gushing, “I'm thrilled to be able to meet you.”

Interviewee replies “It’s almost as good meeting you.”

I think ‘Who do you think you are? And why did I get sucked in to listening to this!’

I tried out the Interviewee response on an unsuspecting boater who replied “Madam I am but a humble oaf in the beauty of your radiance.” Now that is class to warm your heart.

Back to boating in Leicestershire. Having floated this water trail, last year, there is a knowing about it. Cruising familiar waters and passing by beautiful flowering fields of buttercups and the rise of the wheat crop past 'knee high to a grasshopper'. An overnight stop close to Newton Harcourt was a must. We found our mooring spot from last year and happily tied up DB overlooking the yellow medieval fields across the Canal.

Della and I walked across the fields to the Wistow Rural Centre. Signs on the fields clearly indicated there was no dog poo fairy and pick up after your dog. It was OK for sheep, of course. I picked up after Della and Della tried to pick up after the sheep. I growled at Della to drop the contents of her mouth. I informed her she would never be a sheep and ‘Hay’ she would never find a sheep’s diet would satisfy her. We walked on to the Rural Centre thinking there would be a ‘Doogy-doo’ Bin. Well there was no bin at the Inn and the cafe staff reluctantly agreed to let me put my doggy bag in the big bin. They voiced their annoyance that there is no Dog Litter Bin on or around the Rural Centre. 

I wrote to the ‘Wistow Centre’ and received a message back to say the Farmer and the local Council would not put in dog litter bins and we were lucky we could walk our dog over the medieval fields. A ‘Local’, I met on my walk, said she now understood why dog litterbags were attached to the fence near the rural centre.

Next day was a beautiful day for cruising DB and we passed lots of suitable moorings to remember for our next cruise in this area. We passed the first BBQ of the season and the smell of grilling sausages followed us.  
We saw Nb Matilda last year at Calcutt Locks

Close to the Foxton Locks is Debdale Wharf, a Marina that has ‘Dry Standing’, and we are planning to have DB out of water for the 5 month long winter season in England while we repeat the ‘winter sun’ in Spain. Makes sense to leave DB on dry land and in a secure location. At this stage Debdale Wharf could be the answer.

Sun setting near Debdale Wharf

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A brief history

This is a blog set up by Chris and Sarah so family and friends can catch up with their travels on the British waterways in the summer of 2011. In 2010, I went to England with the idea of getting a narrow boat built. I had specific requirements so I thought that a new build may be the way to go. I e mailed to numerous boat builders, a great percentage of whom ignored me. The problem of having a family name of Laycock is that hotmail and a few others think that I am a porn star. At an early age you learn not to put C Laycock on your school books. But I guess that my nephew Paul did worse. Anyway I spent a very pleasant few weeks driving around the beautiful English countryside visiting boatyards, marinas, boat builders and just a few pubs. I had narrowed it down to two builders and in the last week I was in Devizes Wiltshire when I came across "Avalon Mist" 54 feet of throbbing neglected narrow boat. The past owner had lost interest, hadn’t maintained her and to add insult to injury had been made redundant. After a very short negotiation I was able to buy her for a pretty fair price. On the day the sale took place I had to beg her to take her trainers and a few rather suspect items of clothing, in other words she left everything. Lock stock and barrel.

Soon after the purchase I flew to California to meet Sarah and have a short holiday. Once back in NZ I started to try and organize works. The first thing that I learnt was that the marina does not allow any contractor on site, only their chosen ones, the excuse given is a concern about insurance, the suspicion is, graft, pay back, baksheesh, call it what you like. It is possible to take the boat off the marina to have the work done, but not really practical.

The first job to be tackled was to “winterize” the boat, i.e. drain off all the water, check the anti freeze in the engine and central heating and fit an automatic bilge pump.

No real problem there except communication, the mechanic just didn’t answer e mails. Difficult to do business like that.

The nice marina lady had a quiet word with him, and things did improve, thanks Debs you have been a star through out . He later confided in me the reason for this was that he was dyslexic, apparently a malady [he] claims affects a lot of mechanics.[It turns out that he is a great mechanic and a nice guy to boot].

That goes pretty high on my list of lame excuses, the top one being a really nice Irish guy Pat, who I had employed as a carpenter years ago when I lived in London. He was always a bit late for work, when I finally collared him about it; he said he could never decide what to wear to work.

Nice one Pat.

I digress, the boat was winterized, which was just as well as it was a cold one and the whole marina froze over.

Next job was to have her taken out of the water, have the hull stripped back to bare metal and have a bit of over plating done. There were a couple of areas where there was pitting, and I though if she’s out of the water, may as well do the job right, so a small amount of over plating and then the hull was blacked, and the engine bay partially de-rusted and then back in the water.

Seems like a good job was done, I had the marine surveyor who had done the original survey, check out all the major works and give me written reports and photos, so all good except once again communications.

I then came across a great guy, the partner of the woman who runs the marina and a carpenter/narrow boat fitter outer .He replaced the stern deck and did a great job, also did a great job on de-greasing, de-rusting and painting the engine compartment. A job I should have done myself, but I just didn’t fancy it, not only that be was great with communications and chasing other people up

So that takes us up to present.

There needs to be a bit of electrical work, not much. The outside is badly in need of paint, Sarah and I can do that and a bit of a tidy up inside, and then she will be a really nice boat.